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May jobless rate 1 percent lower in 2011

Jul 12, 2012 - From wire and staff reports

Fremont County employment

Unemployment rate

May -- 5.8 percent

April -- 6.6 percent

May 2011 -- 6.8 percent

Labor force

May -- 19,861

April -- 19,744

May 2011 -- 19,578

Total employment

May -- 18,7011

April -- 18,499

May 2011 -- 18,254

Total unemployment

May -- 1,160

April -- 1,295

May 2011 -- 1,324

Fremont County's unemployment news continued to improve in May, and the county's jobless rate is now a full percentage point lower than it was a year ago thanks to strong job growth that saw more than 400 more people at work this year than last.

In the latest available data from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, the county's unemployment rate plunged nearly a full point in a single month, coming in at 5.8 percent for May. That's down from 6.6 percent in April and 6.8 percent in May 2012.

Other than the expected seasonal improvement in tourism-heavy Teton County, which saw its rate drop from 11.4 percent to 8.7 percent, only Park County's .9 percent improvement beat Fremont County's performance for the month.

The job gains were real as reflected by simultaneous growth in the labor force and total employment, plus the decrease in total unemployment.

Fremont County's civilian labor force is flirting with the 20,000 mark again, climbing in May to 19,861. The figure is 17 more than April and 283 more than the count from May 2011. Five of Wyoming's 23 counties have a work force of 17,000 are greater, with Laramie County (Cheyenne) and Natrona County (Casper) both topping 40,000 available workers.

Job growth was the best in more than a year, with 18,701 workers on full-time payrolls for May, an increase of 252 from April. That's to be expected as construction and agricultural employment increases form April to May, but the county also added 447 jobs compared to last May.

The state's other leading jobs indicator, total unemployment, also improved significantly. The jobless county for May was 1,160, down 135 from the 1,295 unemployed in April and 164 fewer than May 2011.

Teton County (Jackson) still had the state's highest unemployment rate at 8.7 percent, a situation that often is reversed completely thanks to summer tourism hiring. Lincoln County (Kemmerer) has a 7.1 percent rate.

Sublette County (Pinedale) had the lowest rate at 3.1 percent. Campbell County (Gillette) reported a 3.9 percent rate, ahead of announced layoff in that county's huge coal industry.

Statewide, Wyoming's unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, hardly changed from the 5.3 percent in April but down significantly from the 6.0 percent registered a year earlier.

Both Wyoming and Fremont County outdo the national unemployment rate by far. The U.S. percentage inched from 8.1 to 8.1 percent in May but is down from 9.0 percent of May 2011.

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